When it comes to wayfinding design and the million details that help people make their way to, through and around the city and region, we're average at best. Mostly, we rest on "workmanlike" execution instead of achieving clear functional excellence when it comes to route-finding, visitor information and the like.
Broad brush, for sure, but here's a case in point: getting from the airport to downtown Seattle on Sound Transit's multi-billion dollar train line. Put oneself in the spot of a fresh arrival to Seattle and it appears that neither Sound Transit nor the Port of Seattle have given systemic thought to how to make the experience effortless, given the disconnected, uncoordinated and poorly designed user information experience (see slideshow).
Returning home from a holiday trip by airline, we opted for taking the Sound Transit train from Sea-Tac to our stop in Mount Baker. It wasn't the first time so we knew the drill, but this time I put myself in the mind of someone who hadn't done it before — a tourist, visitor or local — who wanted to get from the airport to downtown quickly, cheaply and easily after staggering off a long flight.
It was ridiculously unclear.